May you live in interesting times
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© Cambridge University Press 2013. Introduction Anyone involved in technology would agree that such times are upon us. Whether it is a curse or not is, of course, a matter of opinion but the scope of change due to the application of science in our societies is unprecedented. Opportunities to incur change have never been in the reach of more participants or presented to a larger – and growing – audience. Any field of endeavour is subject to the sweep of information technology and the presentation of entomology and insects is prospering. Humanity and insects are involved on many different levels and the association has not often been a pleasant one. Insects have been getting a bad press since biblical times, where the book of Exodus records three of the ten Egyptian plagues being caused by insects (gnats, flies and locusts). It is hard to overcome the innate fear many people have of insects or just creepy-crawlies in general. In the past this suspicion bled off in some measure to the people who studied them, making entomologists almost as much of a curiosity as the insects. The popular view of entomologists as cartoon characters come alive, complete with aerial nets and pith helmets, is disappearing (mostly) to be replaced with or at least complemented by forensic investigators, environmental activists, molecular biologists, agricultural consultants, pest managers, ecologists of all stripes and a multitude of other highly trained specialists who rely on the science of entomology. The classical practitioners of systematics and taxonomy supported by large, well-curated insect collections are still very much in need, though even they spend more time in the laboratory than in the field.
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